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Street Fighter 2 Mock Video of Yuichiro Nagashima KO'ing Shinya Aoki

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later, Shinya Aoki getting knocked out by Yuichiro Nagashima from Dynamite!! will not die, actually, someone has lovingly mocked it up like Street Fighter 2. This isn't the first time we've seen something similar before, and it won't be the last time we see it, either. This comes hot on the heels as reports from Japan revolve around Nagashima's crazy cosplaying fans making Aoki's life a nightmare. We've actually heard that a few days ago Nagashima appeared at Aoki's gym, but we haven't heard if it was for an apology or if Nagashima was just messing around. Yikes. Aoki even has a new, private Twitter account, so the odds are he won't let you read his feed. Sorry. [source]

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What Could Have Been - The Cautionary Tale of Alexey Ignashov

Fame, like many things in life, has its pros and cons. It can be a blessing and a curse; bringing opportunities into ones life that they otherwise would never have had. It's up to that individual to dictate where a lifestyle of fortune takes them. Often times, that task is too heavy for one to bear and tragedy soon follows. No one knows that better than Alexey Ignashov.

Alexey was born in Minsk, Belarus on January 18th, 1978. He developed a passion for combat sports early in life. Muay Thai is where the Belarusian would get his start. Training at Chinuk Gym, The Red Scorpion, as his fans call him, would go on to win two Muay Thai titles in less than a year, defeating future K-1 legend Remy Bonjasky, in the process. It was clear that Ignashov had the talent to compete at an even higher level as he soon moved to K-1 to try his hand at fighting the worlds best kickboxers.

Picking right up where he left off, Alexey was the victor in his first three fights in K-1 and in the process, won the K-1 Belarus 2000 Grand Prix which qualified him for the World Grand Prix in Yokohama. Alexey would lose to Matt Skelton in the quarterfinals but it was apparent that a star was quickly rising on the global kickboxing scene.

Between 2000 - 2004, Alexey would go on to defeat such K-1 luminaries as Peter Aerts, Badr Hari, Semmy Schilt, Mike Bernardo, and Paul Slowinski, among others. Quite an accomplishment for the young Ignashov. With this amount of success comes great acclaim and all that goes with it. Alexey took full advantage.

Partying and alcohol abuse replaced time in the gym for Ignashov, triggering a downward spiral in his career. Alexey would lose four straight fights in 2005, failing to qualify for the prestigious K-1 World Grand Prix in the process. His lack of dedication was apparent. Ignashov was now the victim of fighters that were climbing the ladder of the K-1 world. A stark contrast to where he was just two years earlier.

Though he made it to the semifinals in the K-1 Amsterdam 2006 Grand Prix, Alexey would go on to lose to Turkish superstar, Gokhan Saki. A blow to the psyche of the fragile fighter.

Ignashov would toil in smaller promotions for the next three years. During this time, Alexey transplanted himself to Auckland, New Zealand to train at Balmoral Lee Gar Gym under Lollo Heimuli. It was then that he would become sober and work on returning himself to the prominence he once enjoyed - even though it must have seemed like so long ago that he was there.

After preparing himself to the point where he felt ready to enter the K-1 ring once again, Alexey approached K-1 president, Sadaharu Tanikawa to give him his shot. Tanikawa was hesitant but granted him the chance at one more go around.

Not drawing the easiest of fighters, Ignashov was given a fight with K-1 superstar Badr Hari on April 3rd, 2010 at the K-1 Yokohama Grand Prix. You could tell that Alexey had been out of the spotlight for many years as he looked sluggish and unambitious while Badr Hari took the unanimous decision win.

Some thought that we had seen the last of The Red Scorpion but he found himself in the K-1 Bucharest Grand Prix a month later. Scoring a knockout win over Mindaugas Sakalauskas and a decision win over Freddy Kemayo, it looked like Ignashov was going to finally return to the dominant fighter of old. But it was not to be - Alexey was injured during his fight with Kemayo and could not continue. Another setback.

It's hard to know if Alexey will ever return to being the superstar fighter of his youth. At 32, he is certainly young enough to continue fighting for years to come but it's more than age that determines your success as a fighter - it's winning the mental game. It looks as though Alexey has won the battle over alcohol and the vices of this world. Now, he must win the battle over self-doubt and be willing to stand at the bottom of the mountain and work his way back to the top.

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The 2011 K-1 Season: Middleweights (MAX)

Can Anyone Stop Petrosyan?The past two years in K-1 MAX have been transformation years for the K-1 MAX division. In 2009 an Italian fighter by the name of Giorgio Petrosyan looked poised to take the whole tournament, Japanese ace Masato decided not to participate in the World MAX tournament and instead announced he would retire by the end of the year. Yuya Yamamoto seemed poised and energized to take that "Masato spot" in K-1 MAX until Giorgio Petrosyan beat the ambition out of him. Andy Souwer and Buakaw Por. Pramuk met again in the semi-finals, with Souwer moving on to the finals where Petrosyan took him to task and handily took his first title.

Then 2010 was a strange year for the K-1 MAX division. There was no Masato, there would be scheduling issues galore, with the traditional line-up of shows not happening. A few of the Final 16 bouts happened on the -63kgs show, then a few in Europe way later in the year. Yuya Yamamoto fell, and hard, while Yuichiro Nagashima looked like a man-on-fire, determined to take MAX by storm. The one thing Nagashima didn't account for was "Iron" Mike Zambidis having a career revival, putting on a FOTY with Chahid Oulad El Hadj and then KO'ing Nagashima in the 3rd round. Something felt missing for fans, as there was no Masato and Buakaw Por. Pramuk had apparently not been invited back into the MAX tournament, nor had Andy Souwer, the man who made the finals the year before and was in Masato's retirement bout. Zambo's run at the top was stopped by Petrosyan and Yoshihiro Sato's run to the finals was met with stiff competition from Petrosyan, who easily captured his second crown.

This leaves us in an existential quandary over 2011. Here is what is clear; Giorgio Petrosyan will rip through the competition as long as injuries don't hold him back. Yoshihiro Sato will be back and looking to finally take his place as the Japanese ace, but will he choke in the big matches again? Yuya Yamamoto might want to prove that his run in 2009 wasn't a fluke, but the chances of him succeeding are not high. Yuichiro Nagashima ended 2010 by destroying Shinya Aoki at Dynamite!! during the MMA rules portion of their fight, and his cosplaying fans have apparently been giving poor Aoki a tough time and haunting him everywhere he goes, to the degree that his Twitter is gone and he is basically in hiding. Let's not kid around, Nagashima had a breakout year in 2010 and might be able to do better in 2011.

Of course, the man that derailed him last year was ZAMBO, "Iron" Mike Zambidis. Nobody expected Zambo to come to war and make it as far as he did, but he did. That fire that was lit under him will most likely not disappear, expect him to be a force again this year. Artur Kyshenko was upset by Mohammed Khamal in the Final 16, but Kyshenko will be back with a vengeance, and expect the young blood of Khamal to once again come to fight. Then, of course, there is Gago Drago. Drago is one of the most exciting and frustrating fighters in the world, with his recent string of losses and inconsistent performances and the rise of much more exciting and consistent fighters in Europe it is hard to argue he still has a spot in MAX. Mosab Amrani went to war with Mootje on December 18th and would make for an awesome inclusion in the MAX playing field. Artem Levin has been fighting at 75kgs, and if he can drop 5kgs more he could be an absolute beast in the MAX division, especially after taking home the gold at the Sport Accord World Combat games last year at 75kgs. I also fully expect Albert Kraus to be back and ready to fight.

Of course, with all of these favorites, the real question is, can anyone stop Giorgio Petrosyan?

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The 2011 K-1 Season: Heavyweights

Another year and what we can expect is another year of K-1 Grand Prix tournaments. Nothing is set in stone yet, as FEG is currently amidst a restructuring and planning period for a better part of the month, but if they decide to run the standard Grad Prix tournaments this year, there could be a lot of interest going into each one.

The Heavyweights

This one will hold the most interest for Western fans, and rightfully so. In 2010 we saw the "sure bet" of a Semmy Schilt victory derailed at the skilled hands of Peter Aerts in what might very well be his last K-1 World Grand Prix tournament. To say that Aerts went out on his shield is an understatement, Peter Aerts is Mr. K-1 and will always be remembered for his World Grand Prix runs, and his last run to the finals will be remembered fondly.

The big story going into the 2011 World Grand Prix will be the return of Badr Hari. We've received confirmation from Mike's Gym that Badr Hari is indeed back in training and will be ready to compete this year, and after making the finals two years in a row an taking 2010 off, Hari will be poised to take the Grand Prix by storm, and it very well could be his year, finally.

We'll also see Semmy Schilt return with a vengeance, with no Peter Aerts to foil him, his only big obstacles would be Badr Hari or the returning champion, Alistair Overeem. With all of the media hype Overeem has been receiving, look for him to return to K-1 and defend his title, unless this Strikeforce Heavyweight GP gets in the way.

There will be other names involved as well, with Peter Aerts possibly not involved there would be an open slot for a new fighter to make the Final 8, but expect strong showings from Tyrone Spong, Gokhan Saki, Kyotaro and Daniel Ghita. All four of these fighters could very easily find themselves the king of the K-1 mountain in short order. Also expect Ewerton Teixeira, Errol Zimmerman, Jaideep Singh, Hesdy Gerges and Jerome Le Banner to make their way into the Final 16. If JLB can keep his temper in check, I fully expect him to make the Final 8 and give the World Grand Prix a run to remember.

There could be a number of other entrants into the Heavyweight field, with Ben Edwards, Ray Sefo, Raul Catinas and Mighty Mo all be solid additions.

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